State Department issues Europe travel alert following terror attacks

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Thinking about taking a summer vacation in Europe? You should know that the State Department has issued a travel alert following the deadly bombings in Brussels.

“Terrorist groups continue to plan near-term attacks throughout Europe, targeting sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants and transportation,” the State Department warned.

U.S. citizens are urged to “exercise vigilance” when in public places and on “mass transportation” throughout Europe.

“I think there’s a real danger of it,” said Steven MacMartin, a former homeland security agent and current Medaille College professor.

MacMartin, who was in Brussels last summer, thinks it’s almost inevitable that there will be another attack in Europe soon.

“If I was traveling again there in the very near future I’d try to postpone my trip. That’s me. I’m not giving advice,” he said. “I’m not an expert to give travel advice. That’s just my personal opinion based on what I know about personal safety.”

Former Buffalo FBI special agent in charge Peter Ahearn, who now runs his own threat-risk assessment consulting company, is planning a trip to Belgium in August.

“If you don’t think I was thinking about it two weeks ago. But it’s not stopping me. I’m still going to go,” Ahearn said.

The deadly terror attacks in Brussels may have many Americans mixed on traveling to Europe in the near future; especially with transit hubs — like an airport and subway station — getting hit in Brussels.

“When you turn around and you’ve got somebody ready to detonate a suicide bomb. You can’t stop that,” said Ahearn.

The recent terror attacks have prompted more discussion about soft targets, and whether it makes sense to move back security checkpoints located inside airports.

Many law enforcement experts think that would only move vulnerabilities from one place to another.

MacMartin added: “Before everybody gets to the ticket line do you want to check them there for explosives and weapons and fugitives and whatever you’re going to check for?”

Some have thought about the possibility moving security checkpoints outside airport terminals.

“You’re going to cause delays and you’re going to have problems, and you’re also going to create another zone that is vulnerable and another soft target,” Ahearn said.

Both MacMartin and Ahearn point out that the odds of getting caught in the middle of a terrorist attack rank right up there with getting struck by lightning or hitting the big lottery jackpot.

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